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I Wish You’d Stop Being Clever – Why and When to Use Being

Lucky LanSan asked a really useful question about being on our Facebook page.

In the following article will find some examples of how you can use being.

First of all, being means that you can say something about someone or something. Someone/something is nice, friendly, nasty, cruel, pitiful, etc.

What’s the difference between the following two statements?

1)      Marvin is nice.

2)      Marvin is being nice.

Answer: Sentence 1) “Marvin is nice” means that Marvin is always nice.

In 2), Marvin is nice now. He is doing something nice. He’s helping an old lady cross the street, or he’s asking a friend how he feels, or whatever. “Being” is used as part of the present progressive tense. As in “he is swimming” or “she is making a phone call,” it means that someone is in the middle of an activity.

Because “being” means in the middle of doing something, you wouldn’t be able to say “The weather is being hot today.” Why not? Because the weather doesn’t do things, so it can’t be in the middle of doing something. The correct sentence is: it’s hot today.

In other words, you can only use being when someone or something is doing something.

Here are some more examples of correct usage:

1)      “You’re being ridiculous.” Someone can say this after something has been said that was ridiculous.

2)      If you say: “You’re ridiculous,” it means you think this person is always ridiculous.

1)      After we put on their favourite TV programme, the children were finally being quiet. (This is described as if it were happening at that moment.)

2)      After we put on their favourite TV programme, the children were finally quiet. (This happened in the past.)

1)      This is the third time you’re being late this week. (This is said when the person who is late is coming through the door, panting, with his coat still on.)

2)      This is the third time you’re late this week. (This is said when the person who is late has been found to be late. He’s already inside the office.)

late

 

Being in the Passive Voice

You will also find “being” used in passive sentences.

In passives, you always have to use a form of the verb “to be.”

So in the progressive tenses of the passive, we use “being.”

Present progressive: The salad is being served.

Past progressive: The salad was being served.

Here are some more examples of this:

1)      Present: Their suitcases are being carried to their rooms.

Past: Their suitcases were being carried to their rooms.

2)      Present: The case is being covered by journalists from all the main news channels.

Past: was being covered.

3)      Present: All tours are being led by professional guides.

4)      Past: were being led.

Being as a Noun

You can also use being as a noun. A noun is the type of word that indicates a thing, a person or an idea. Examples of nouns are: tree, fish, man, and happiness.

In the following examples, “being” is a noun, and not a verb:

Being rude isn’t going to work with me, young lady.

In any relationship, being a good listener is more important than being right.

His favourite pastime (= hobby) when he’s not working is being on the beach.

Being in love doesn’t always mean being happy.

She has shown several times that being patient isn’t her forte (= strong point).

Being a dancer has always been his dream.

Exercise

Add “being” in the following sentences.

Example:

The cat is cruel to the mouse she has just caught.

The cat is being cruel to the mouse she has just caught.

Now it’s your turn:

1 If you keep changing the order of those files, you’re not really helpful.

2 If you don’t think she is helpful, why do you keep asking her to help you?

3 Was he shy or just having a bad mood?

4 If you’re shy a lot, people will stop asking your opinion.

5 Don’t ignore her when she’s kind.

6 I hate those kids when they’re nasty to each other.

7 Does the government really have to cut expenses or are they just cruel?

8 Our company wasn’t very generous when they handed out an orange to each of its employees as an end-of-year present.

9 I think you’re just annoying when you ask the same question again and again.

Answers: Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Answers:

1 If you keep changing the order of those files, you’re not really being helpful.

2 If you don’t think she is being helpful, why do you keep asking her to help you?

3 Was he being shy or just having a bad mood?

4 If you’re being shy a lot, people will stop asking your opinion.

5 Don’t ignore her when she’s being kind.

6 I hate those kids when they’re being nasty to each other.

7 Does the government really have to cut expenses or are they just being cruel?

8 Our company wasn’t being very generous when they handed out an orange to each of its employees as an end-of-year present.

9 I think you’re just being annoying when you ask the same question again and again.

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